20 Nov 2018
Top Western banks are alleged to have processed the bulk of the $234 billion tranche of suspicious transactions central to Danske Bank’s money laundering affair, which has stirred much controversy in the European banking world.
On Monday, whistleblower and former Danske Bank employee Howard Wilkinson told Danish lawmakers that a European bank and two American banks had processed the money.
Although Wilkinson did not name the banks, sources and various media reportedly named Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and Bank of America as the three banks that cleared dollar transactions for Danske’s Estonian branch.
As much as $150 billion is understood to have been processed by Deutsche Bank.
“I would guess that $150 billion went through this particular bank (the large European bank) in the U.S.,” Wilkinson said, quoted in Reuters.
“No one really knows where this money went. All we know is that the last people to see it was these three large banks in the U.S. They were the last check, and when that failed, the money was into the global financial system,” Wilkinson said.
Neither Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan or BoA responded when asked to comment. However later on Monday, a Deutsche spokesman told Reuters :
“Our role was to process payments for Danske Bank … We terminated the relationship in 2015 after identifying suspicious activity.”
The role of giants like Deutsche in the scandal is likely to draw more attention from regulators, and will question the effectiveness of Europe’s anti-money laundering (AML) regime.
European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, whose section has brought out a number of AML regulations, has described the Danske scandal as the ‘biggest scandal in Europe.’ Meanwhile commentators point to the vast amount of billions that exited Estonia through the single Danske branch.
The unit is central to the money laundering scandal that has hit Denmark’s leading lender.
A September report published by Danske shows that workers at the unit may have colluded with customers in laundering cash.
Danske also admitted that it had acquired a large number of non-resident customers in Estonia ‘that we should have never had.’
– Irene Madongo
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